DTLA, Palm Springs, & Joshua Tree – Travel California

The long awaited California Travel Diary is finally here.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I travel quite often hence I have a whole series here on StyleAndSenses, called Travel Diary. This year’s recap: I went to Seattle this year in January and May, was in Colorado in February, and I was in Las Vegas for a Bachelorette party at the end of last month. Early this month, my boyfriend flew down to LA for a work trip, so I had to take the opportunity since LA had always been one of my top places to travel to for the longest time. I was, technically, in LA, last December on a road trip with him. But we didn’t have a lot of time. We only had a few hours spent at Disney Land, visited LACMA and spent a few hours at Disney Land, and had dinner at the 626 area. This trip, of course, was to make it all up! Here are some highlights:


I took half-day off work on Thursday, June 8, catching a late afternoon flight to LAX. My boyfriend flew in a few hours later, so I decided to wait for him at the airport. I didn’t mind waiting but seriously though, LAX was so crowded and busy. Car rental was also a pain since the line was so long. We didn’t get to eat until 1 a.m.

late dinner: TSUJITA LA ARTISAN NOODLE, 2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles – we had a crafted Asahi (dry Japanese beer), a spicy tuna don (rice bowl), a char siu ramen bowl, and their well-known tsukemen (ramen served separately from the thick tonkotsu soup, with added lime juice and char siu meat). It was a full late dinner! I’d recommend you to order one thing per person since Japanese ramen-related dishes could get really thick and heavy in terms of the fat and carb content.

We drove South to a friend’s house in the OC. We got to the house at 2:30 am and quickly passed out.


Waking up the charming neighborhood of Lake Forrest made it up for the previous landing night. We had some breakfast and left for a full day of shooting. My boyfriend had a shoot, so we didn’t get to capture a lot this day. But basically, we drove to New Port Beach and got to see so many amazing vacation homes of the rich. I was blown away by the lawns filled with tons of insanely huge cactus plants, roses, and palm trees everywhere. Laguna Beach was by far my favorite beach of all. I had to go back one day since my friend did offer a surfing lesson. I just want to have at least a day laying by the beach, soaking in the sun and the amazing sea breezes with sands on my face. While shooting at one of the LagunBeachch fronts, we were stopped by a beach security guy, and he was so close to hand my boyfriend a ticket for taking photos without a permit. We were just helping his friend for her engagement phohos, so he ended up giving him a warning. So apparently, you have to pay a fee of $100 in order to do professional photography anywhere in the Laguna Beach city. That was annoying!

quick lunch: H-MART 5111 Beach Blvd, Buena Park

coffee: 85 DEGREE C nearby H-mart. I’d highly recommend you to check out any 85-degree stores for bakery goods and refreshing drinks when you’re in Cali or any big cities.

After lunch, we drove North to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum attempting to get a few historical buildings in the shoot. Again, we had been driving so much and got there just to find out it costs $25 per person to get in. So we decided to leave. Remember to always do your research! Luckily, our friends had access to a few private pools and a ranch, so we drove back to the Lake Forrest neighborhood and spent the rest of the late afternoon there. After the long day of shooting, my boyfriend and I were headed back to LA, and again fighting the LA traffic wasn’t so fun! We made it to Venice beach just before the sun was setting, and it was quite magical! The sky was one dusty peachy pink shade. Out-of-this-world! Not to mention the beach walk was filled with amazingly Instagramable houses, ahhh!

dinner: shabu shabu at MOKKOJI in Rosemead, 815 W Naomi Ave, Arcadia. We opted for a full course for 2, including rolls, drinks, and samplers. Vegetables were refillable. Meat choices were exceptional as well.

VONS: grocery store for water and snacks


We woke up bright and early and headed East of LA to Palm Springs and Joshua Trees. The drive wasn’t too bad, but I would recommend you to leave a bit early in the day. Again, traffic in LA could delay a lot of things. The drive through Palm Springsm its main road, was absolutely amazing! I don

MOORTEN BOTANICAL GARDEN – We paid $5/person to walk around the weirdest but coolest botanical garden ever. It’s also known as the World’s First Cacterium. The place houses about 3000 cacti and cactus plants, including the coolest green house aka cacterium.

KORAKIA – this little mansion boutique hotel was giving me all the chills a vacation vibes. We didn’t stay here but managed to sneak in their garden to shoot a few photos. Again, you’d need a permit to shoot professional photos. So glad that I wasn’t wearing a wedding dress, hah!

lunch: ALICANTE 140 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, A modern-rustic Spanish eatery offering small plates, craft draft beer & a patio with mountain views.

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK & THE ARCH: the most magical place on earth! I’ll definitely come back and camp here!

WINDMILL FARM: Sorry I don’t remember the exact location where we stopped to shoot the outfit. But again, you’ll see it on your way driving from LA to Palm Springs. Just pay attention to the roads around, and find a safe place to park and stay away from the sand dunes. We tried to drive in close to where the fence was, but the wind was too strong and our car was quickly buried in lots of sands. Thank God we found a flat object aka the trunk cover to leverage the wheel and then drove away so fast.

LAKE ELSINORE We made it to the famous poppy flowers field just to find no flowers left. It was apparently the most scouted place when Super Bloom was on, and I’m pretty sure it’s late March. The drive up the mountain reminded me so much of our road trip in last December, scary!

dinner: THE KICKIN CRAB LA 8300 La Palma Ave A6, Buena Park

We drove from Buena Park all the way up to the Hollywood area just to find out that we were 15 minutes late to the movie. We thought at least they would play trailers and ads before showtime, but no! All ArcLight theaters play their movies at exactly 7 minutes in. So we decided to go for the later show in the Hollywood area.

movie: WONDER WOMEN at ArcLight Hollywood. NOT recommended! Tickets were $18!!!

⇒ NOTE TO SELF: booking hotel BEFORE MIDNIGHT! When we got out of the movie, it was almost 3 a.m. Unfortunately, there was a gay pride parade scheduled in Hollywood are the next, so all hotels were booked. We called like 20 hotels, and it was either too expensive for a two-star hotel or they wouldn’t even care to help us checked for availability. We ended up staying at a crab hotel at Bueno park in the OC.


GRIFFIN PARK: a must-visit spot in LA. We initially planned to hike the Hollywood sign, but we ran out of time and didn’t get to our hotel until 4 a.m. So we decided to just drive up to the Griffin Park instead, parked our car for an hour near the conservatory, and walked around the building. The view was pretty though!

lunch: SMORGASBURG, THE ROW, 785 Bay St, LA – ‘a West Coast outpost of the Brooklyn-born open-air market, Smorgasburg LA brings chefs from across the city to a five-acre parking lot on Alameda to serve you their favorite, most popular dishes.’ We had a super yummy Goa taco, a pineapple Hawaiian style garlic shrimp thingy at Shrimp Daddy, and some Hawaiian shaved ice at the booth right next to it.

DISNEY HALL ORCHESTRA– must-visit for a futuristically themed photoshoot!

PAUL SMITH LA PINK WALL: this place was such a quick funny visit. No professional camera was allowed. And not to mention there were lines of people trying to take a photo with just that rainbow and pink colored wall.

SANTA MONICA BEACH walk to the pier! This walk/hike was about slightly more than a mile long. I’d recommend you to park further from the pier and walk towards it. The plant and beach views were absolutely breath-taking! Although I wouldn’t recommend going to the pier, it was very crowded and windy, but you should go if it’s your first time.

dinner: SAKANA SUSHI LOUNGE 321 W 9th St, Los Angeles. We paid $68 for a table full of rolls and drinks. Insane! Sakana was opened recently, so they had a buy 2 rolls with drinks and get two rolls for free, hence the crazy looking table of food we had here. The food itself wasn’t too amazing, but the customer service was great! We enjoyed our experience there!


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Craving for some more travel bits? Check out my past travel diary, Seattle in May: here, Colorado in February: here, Seattle in January: here, December road trip: here.

Thank you so much for reading this massively long travel diary. I hope you’re all well!

as always | stay inspired

An Trieu.


1 comments so far.

One response to “DTLA, Palm Springs, & Joshua Tree – Travel California”

  1. andbibi says:

    Love! You look stunning. This Post makes me miss LA!

An Trieu

Currently based in Seattle, Style & Senses is my digital life and style journal of all things that inspire my senses and beyond. Hope you stay inspired, as always! - An Trieu.

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